The devastating blasts in the Afghan and Iraqi capitals must be put in their particular context – but the suffering and strength are recognisable to us all
There are no “I heart KBL” signs. No #jesuisbaghdad hashtags. No one is paying tribute to the rich cultural heritage and resilience of the targets. It is unlikely that we will come to recognise the names and faces of most victims. But the bombs that struck Kabul on Wednesday morningstruck Kabul yesterday morning and Baghdad late on Monday were as devastating to their residents as the attack on the Ariana Grande concert in Manchester a week earlier. That should not need saying, of course; yet the insecurity that Afghans and Iraqis face can blur the impact of atrocities into a general impression of perpetual chaos and pain for outsiders. That terror strikes so often – and particularly in the month of Ramadan – does not dull its effect on those who experience it. Repeated suffering compounds trauma.
In the case of the ice-cream parlour targeted in one of four bombings in the Iraqi capital that day, the parallels with the British attack were unmissable: among the 17 fatalities were mothers and young daughters out enjoying an evening’s innocent pleasure together, after breaking their Ramadan fast. The intended prey of the vast device that rocked the Afghan capital is less clear: it was hidden inside a sewage tanker, and the Nato-led Resolute Support mission in Kabul said Afghan security forces prevented it from entering the diplomatic zone, so its intended target may well have been foreign. But a bomb on this scale – leaving a crater perhaps 4 metres deep – was always going to claim civilian lives. Most of the 90 or more victims it killed, and the hundreds more who were injured, appear to have been ordinary workers. Just as in Manchester, families have been torn apart and their wider communities left fearful. And that is, of course, the purpose: to sow dread, division and a perpetual sense of uncertainty, of living on the brink of disaster.